UMass students fighting possible tuition increase

Group calling for increased funding for public higher education

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – UMass Amherst students testified Wednesday afternoon against yet another year of tuition increases for Massachusetts public colleges and universities. About a dozen students attended Wednesday’s Joint Ways and Means Committee meeting, asking for a tuition freeze across the state.

Over the last 16 years, the Legislature has cut funding for public higher education by 31% per student. That is an average of $4,000 more every year. Governor Charlie Baker’s 2018 budget proposal for higher education will cause a tuition hike at 29 colleges and universities.

The students at Wednesday’s hearing called for three things. First, they want a statewide tuition freeze for 2018 at all 29 affected campuses.

“The second step, we would say, is that the state needs to increase funding. We actually need to have a tuition fee rollback. A freeze is not enough. We actually need to have tuition fees go down,” UMass Amherst alum Zac Bears said.

Third, the students support a 2018 ballot question that adds a 4% surtax on anyone making more than $1 million each year. According to the state’s Budget and Policy Center, the average debt of an in-state student is about $30,000.